Rapport final

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A. Background

The policy debate on the use of the digital dividend dates back to 2005 when a commission communication set January 1, 2012 as the recommended deadline for the EU-wide transition to DTT (see EU Media Tracker 11).

In its 2007 communication on “reaping the full benefits of the digital dividend in Europe: a common approach to the use of the spectrum released by the digital switchover” the Commission proposed an approach based on different 'clusters' in the UHF band (470-872 MHz) which would be subject to different degrees of spectrum management coordination at the EU level. These clusters would be the sub-bands for: digital terrestrial broadcasting; mobile multimedia (including mobile TV); and fixed wireless/mobile broadband (see EU Media Tracker 12).

A number of follow-up initiatives were then promoted by the Commission to further analyse the economic, technical and policy implications of the proposed approach, including:

• launch of a comprehensive study assessing the economic and social impact of the different uses of the digital dividend and the potential benefits resulting from EU coordination;

• technical studies under the auspices of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) to identify technical solutions to interference challenges; and

• extensive consultations with main stakeholders.

Consensus on the approach and a call for swift action on the digital dividend also came from the Radio Spectrum Working Group (RSWG) and the European Regulators Group (ERG) in May 2009 (see EU Media Flash 31/2009).

NB. For an overview on the analogue switch-off dates and the use of the digital dividend in the EU Member States, see Table 18 in the WE Telecom Cross-Country Analysis and Table 15 in the CEE Telecom Cross-Country Analysis, and Table 2 in the WE Media Cross-Country Analysis.

B. EU roadmap for mid- and long-term action

Considering the broad consensus on the need for a harmonised approach to the digital dividend, the Commission suggests the envisaged coordination could be achieved by agreeing on a shared EU roadmap which would define the process and milestones for implementing a set of strategic actions at the EU level.

In practical terms, the roadmap could be incorporated into the wider multi-annual spectrum action programme to be adopted by the European Parliament and Council in early 2010, as foreseen in the reformed regulatory framework for electronic communications (see EU Telecoms Tracker 1).
A summary of the main actions under consideration is presented in the table below.


Proposed measures

1. Improve consumers’ experience by ensuring high quality standards for DTT receivers across Europe

• Ensure availability of compression standards of defined minimum efficiency (at least as the MPEG-4) on all DTT receivers sold after Jan. 1, 2012.

• Set standards for the ability of DTT receivers to resist interference.

2. Increase the size of the digital dividend by spectrum efficiency gains

• Foster collaboration between Member States to share future broadcasting network deployment plans (e.g. migration to MPEG-4 or DVB-T2) in order to increase efficiency.

• Encourage the deployment of Single Frequency Networks (SFN).

NB In short, DTT networks can be implemented by using Multi Frequency Network (MFN) technology, SFN or a mix of these two technologies. On SFN all transmitters of the network use of the same frequency channel to provide a common coverage for same content. On MFN each transmitter uses different frequency channel and has its own coverage area to carry either same or different content.

• Support research on “frequency agile mobile communications systems”. (The consultation document does not specify in clear terms what this would mean in practice).

3. Make the 800 MHz band swiftly available under harmonised technical conditions

• Accelerate the switchover process in all Member States.

• Make concrete steps towards EU-level technical harmonisation.

NB For more details see C.2. below.

4. Adopt a common position on the use of “white spaces”

Invite Member States to cooperate with the Commission to assess the possibility to open up the “white spaces” (i.e. the unused spectrum between broadcasting coverage areas) in their respective countries.

5. Ensure continuity and development of wireless microphone applications

Develop a migration path for current secondary users of UHF spectrum, with possible mandate to be given to CEPT.

NB The issue of wireless microphones has recently arisen e.g. in Germany where users were protesting against the proposals to make the 790-862 MHz band available for wireless broadband services (see Big Five Update June 2009).

6. Facilitate cross-border coordination with non-EU countries

Assist Member States in their negotiations with non-EU neighbouring countries.

7. Address future challenges

Establish mechanism to monitor external developments affecting the roadmap.

1 Commission services working document Annex to the 2005 Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on accelerating the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting {COM(2005)204 }

2 This document covers only regular permanent broadcasts. It does not cover information about transitory and pilot test broadcasts.

3 See Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting (from digital ‘switchover’ to analogue ‘switch-off’){COM(2003)541}

4 The Greek Administration has issued the new Broadcasting Law (3592/19-07-07 OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC 161) and therefore it has been harmonised with the Directives 2002/21/[EC], 2002/22/[EC] and 2002/77/[EC], at the part that they concern the provision of radio-television services. The aim was the plurality and objectiveness of the information, and the equality of the transmission of the information and news to be guaranteed.

Based on the above mentioned Law, the Administration has the appropriate vehicle to proceed in licensing of DTT and digital radio. Besides, the Administration has determined the process and the terms to proceed from analogue to digital broadcasting.

It is foreseen also, that by the end of 2008, a nation wide digital frequency plan will be available and it will be the appropriate tool for the DTT realization.

With regard to the current situation, a MUX of the national broadcasting organisation is in operation, which offers four programs of DTT.

6 For details see www.digitaluk.co.uk/when

7 Brazilian TV Stations are classified into Special, A, B or C Class according to the ERP (Effective Radiated Power) that they are authorized to transmit by Anatel. The ERP limits for each class are defined in the national technical regulation for television broadcasting.

8 Basic Plan for Digital Television Channel Distribution (PBTVD) is the official name designated for the Digital Television Allotment Plan in Brazil.

11 OETF: Opto-electrical transfer function

22 EOTF: Electro-optical transfer function

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